Saturday, 26 July 2014

More milkweed critters: caterpillars

I'm encouraging milkweed
even in my gardens!
I posted a series of photos of the critters who either depend
upon the Common Milkweed plant for food (which is unusual, since it is poisonous to some) or eat the critters that feed on the milkweed.
[Visit more Saturday's Critters at Eileen's blogspot.]

The white 'milk' drips where critters break a branch. I think our raccoons, or somebody in our forest, breaks the plant, bending it over wince the scent of the blossom is so sweet. I'm not sure, though!
The second one I've found!

From fcps.edu: they have a great chart which illustrates the critters who feed on this plant, shelter within it, and plants which are associated with it.
They also explain the poisonous aspect of the Common Milkweed. It does poison domestic animals, goats, sheep, etc., as well as crowding out crops. Many farmers kill it off.

This sap has poisons in it, called Cardiac Glycosides. Some animals can eat the glycosides and not be harmed. When the Monarch butterfly's caterpillar munches the leaves of milkweed, the glycosides go into its body, making the caterpillar poisonous to predators. Even after the caterpillar has changed into an adult butterfly, it keeps the glycosides in its body.

These weeny little caterpillars are Milkweed Tussock moth larvae, as confirmed on BAMONA. They seem a bit
Milkweed Tussock caterpillars
They devour the entire leaf!
Thankfully, we have a lot of milkweed about.
furry, but, unlike the Monarch caterpillar, they haven't any colourings. I will continue to watch them. They totally devours the leaves, as a group, then move on to another leaf. I can only predict this from what I observed last year!

It's tough identifying some. There are several on-line sources to help, many run by volunteers! This one allows you to match by visual identifiers.

The monarch caterpillars are easy to ID, since they have the familiar green/black stripes upon hatching and they don't have fuzzy hair to grow!

Mystery caterpillar
Many have the same hairy appearance
with a wide variety of colours.
Can you believe the size of it?!
I stumped my BAMONA regional expert last month with this fuzzy little guy (left). He couldn't officially ID it, either!

There are caterpillars all over the place! This one I found on my front deck.

Here are what I believe are the Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars.

8 comments:

Margaret Adamson said...

Well you certainly have your work cut out for you watching what critter will emerge. What fun. Have a great weekend.

eileeninmd said...

Interesting post on the caterpillars. The Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars are tiny.. Thanks for linking up to my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

TexWisGirl said...

neat critters.

June Caedmon said...

Glad to see you encouraging the milkweed. So many types of butterflies and moths depend upon it. Great photos - will be interesting to see what emerges :)

Gunilla Bäck said...

They're very cute critters, especially the fuzzy ones.

Red said...

In the last photos there's a huge population of caterpillars. They have eaten a large part of the leaf and how soon will it be before they find another leaf.

William Kendall said...

They really are very small!

Karen said...

Wow, lots of caterpillars! Love your blue nail polish!